Bullying. Think of it however you want. What do you envision? Has it happened to you?
This morning while feeding my son I was casually looking at Twitter. I was absolutely flabbergasted and appalled by tweets made by a “journalist” with 46,500 followers about a woman with an ostomy bag. I personally do not have a bag, but I know many people who do. And the hateful, hurtful and shocking words made me feel sick. In my twelve years battling Crohn’s I personally haven’t been targeted by hateful banter, but it’s so sad to think others with chronic illness are targeted. Here are some of the tweets (that have now been taken down – please excuse the language)…
“She can’t help but talk shit. She has such a problem w/ shit in her body she has to wear an ostomy. Being full of shit is her actual illness.”
“I could care less about her or her illness. She doesn’t deserve my sympathy or respect. Sucks for her.”
“I’m not the one w/ a shitty hole in my stomach virtue signaling about how my stomach hole is cute. Why lie to her & tell her it looks good?”
“I’m not making fun of her. I am making a factual statement. She is actually full of shit. Ppl who are walking toilets shouldn’t throw shit.”
“Your friends are lying to you. It isn’t attractive. When you post pics like that you’re just asking for a confidence boost.”
I think you get the idea. I’m not one to instigate or enjoy confrontation. As a journalist… and a just a decent person, I’ve always done my best to steer clear of putting anything out on social media or my blog that could create anger, seem biased or one-sided. But, as a member of the inflammatory bowel disease community, as a voice for the millions who suffer in silence, and as a new mom… I just can’t let this go.
I commend each and every IBD patient who proudly shows their ostomy bag like a badge of honor. You know what, you deserve to. What you have endured to get to that point and what you experience physically, mentally and emotionally each day is difficult for someone like me to comprehend.
When I scroll through social media and see men, women and kids in bathing suits or workout clothes and not hiding their bag in shame, it’s empowering! It makes me smile to know these people aren’t letting their disease or their personal situations hold them back from living a full life. Rather than hiding their bag or being embarrassed, they are showing people all over the world that your quality of life doesn’t have to be destroyed or hindered because you go to the bathroom differently than everyone else.
Is having a bag ideal? No. Is choosing to rise above your struggle and not let it hold you down incredibly inspiring. Yes. So when you see tweets like the ones above, brush your shoulder off… drown out that noise and know there are millions of others who look to you as a hero. Shame on anybody who thinks otherwise and shame on the keyboard warriors who can spew such hate.
This post originally appeared July 20, 2017 on Lights Camera Crohns.